Gregory Ferenstein writes at TechCrunch:
A fascinating new study explores, in exquisite detail, the hidden secrets of innovation. Rampant copycats, the authors find, are a surprising key to discovering creative solutions. Imitators must, however, be supported with diverse teams and transparency of success.
“You benefit when other people imitate you because they help you explore multiple variations around your solution that you couldn’t possibly pursue on your own,” the authors from Indiana University conclude….
Unexpectedly, the researchers found that imitation was beneficial. Or, in academic speak, “the substantial proportion of imitation present in improvements shows that imitated guesses were often the basis for further productive exploration.” In other words, imitation is never identical and the micro-experiments help increase the possibilities explored, ultimately leading to better performance.